Okay. Let me just put it out there and get the obvious criticisms i’ve been hearing on and on about about Zaha Hadid’s design for the new new PolyU Design Jockey Club Innovation Tower out the way. Ready? Here goes:
CRITIC: The Tower is out of context with the rest of the Hong Kong PolyU Campus in Hung Hom.
ME: This is a criticism that most new “avant-garde” iconic buildings get around the world in relation to their context. And really… the language of this urban brutalist dream that is the HK PolyU campus is a product of its time and does not reflect what design innovators are doing at this point in time. Any further investment in architecture should support new ways of form exploration and form making.
CRITIC: The Tower facade, defined by a series of white aluminium fins is too flimsy.
ME: Actually I think it’s quite okay. I get that the horizontal striations are generally in line with the rest of HK Poly U’s Horizontal red bricked striations.
CRITIC: The windows and the buildings are too difficult to clean and maintain. They need to erect bamboo scaffolding to clean each area.
ME: You got me on that one.
CRITIC: The floor layouts are too crazy.
ME: Actually the floor layouts are not bad. Each floor is a kind of place that is different from floor to floor. The corridors are as important as a place of gathering as are the classrooms. I would imagine design students could be more open to congregate within these playful spaces than traditional narrow corridors and boxy classrooms.
The vertical circulation without use of lifts is easy, using a main escalator from the Ground Floor Gallery to the First Floor, with subsequent floors connecting via a series of easy sloped staircases which are quite comfortable.
CRITIC: The paint job is a cheap white paint with no gloss or special finish. Design students can just easily scratch it.
ME: Agreed. I too am worried about the white paint used in the interior spaces, since it is a design school and different materials are always being lugged around by students.
Now that all those critical statements are out of the way and addressed, lets focus on the Good. Yesterday we had the pleasure of attending the ribbon cutting at the Innovation Tower’s official opening to the public with Zaha Hadid and company in tow. After seeing a series of speeches, all the guests were immediately invited to rush into the new building to what turned out to be an open house.
Here’s a few facts; the PolyU Design school was first established in 1964, which makes it 50 Year Old. In 2009 BusinessWeek rated its Master’s program as one of the World’s 30 Best Design Thinking Programmes. In 2013, PolyU Design became the only school in Asia to get in on Business Insider’s World’s Best 25 Design School list. While there is no Architecture Programme being housed here, they do teach Art / Education, Communication Design, Digital Media, Interior Design, Interactive Media, Product Design, Design Business, and Multimedia Entertainment Technology.
Construction work on the school began in 2009, shortly after Zaha Hadid was named Design Architect. Four years later, the building completed in August 2013. In total, it houses 15,000 square meters of net floor area, accommodating about 1,800 staff and students.
While true that the building has its faults (what building has none?) overall the impression that I get here is that a Zaha building was achievable in a conservative city full of red tape like Hong Kong, and by the looks of some of the finishes… seemingly with the constraints of the allocated budget, which, correct me if i’m wrong, was about 40 million usd.
BRAVA. TO. HER.
I mean, look at these spatial moments. It’s pure ArchiPron!
London based award winning Architect, Zaha Hadid, is everywhere in Hong Kong these days. For one, I’ll be attending the inauguration for her project for Hong Kong Poly U in two weeks, the Innovation Tower, Zaha’s first stand alone building in the city. Additionally, for those who have been shopping at Landmark Men’s Neil Barrett store in Central within the last two years, would get more than a hint that the shop is a Zaha-designed store. And priced at a whopping 1,500Euros online, sources say that Zaha’s United Nude shoe collaboration has been a hit in this city and mainland China as well.
Now taking our love for shoes and architecture to the next level, look what I spotted walking around the Hong Kong IFC Mall the other night… Hong Kong’s brand new Stuart Weitzman flagship, one of a handful in the world designed by Zaha Hadid. Hong Kong and the Milan stores are some of the first in operation. Other locations to follow include New York City, Rome, and possibly London and Beijing.
While the stores will conceptually be unique to each location, Hadid tells DEZEEN Blog that each “design is divided into invariant and adaptive elements to establish unique relationships within each worldwide location,” yet will all be conceptually and formally developed as if from the same family. This is to help establish the spatial direction as that uniquely of the Stuart Weitzman brand.
Enjoy my photos, and check out the shops (for architectural study of course. ahem.)
Other Photos Spotted Online:
Seen&Scene: Chen Fei and Izumi Kato, Chinese and Japanese Painters Debuts Solo Shows Together at Galerie Perrotin Hong Kong
Above, “There will be a day to see you again (2013)” Acrylic on Canvas and “Step Father (2013)” Acrylic on Canvas, both by Chen Fei.
Young Chinese artist, Chen Fei, born in 1983 in Shanxi, is making a solo come back to Hong Kong via Galerie Perrotin. Fei, who was originally discovered by gallerist, Nicole Schoeni, first exhibited here with Schoeni at her 2008 group show, Niubi Newbie Kids and Niubi Newbie Kids 2, and then had his first Hong Kong solo also with Schoeni in 2010 with Bad Taste. With Schoeni Art Gallery closing its doors recently, Galerie Perrotin, has stepped in to offer Chen Fei his second Hong Kong solo titled, Flesh and Me.
"Sorrowful Peasant (2013)", Acrylic on Canvas by Chen Fei
With Flesh and Me, Chen Fei explores further his usually cinematic themes of him and his heroine via a stylistically, “Supreflat”, approach. According to Nicole Schoeni, Chen Fei and his work is representative of a generation of Chinese Post-80’s youth who grew up in an essentially consumerist and media centric society, devoid of the discussion of politics. His works may not be politically conscious, but is telling of generational influences via pop-culture narratives with an overtone of cynicality, humor, and anime violence.
"See Yourself (2013)" Acrylic on Canvas, by Chen Fei
Seven new works adorn the space, each painted with the typical obsessive meticulousness that Chen Fei has been known for. The depiction of his subjects, a woman and his own self, depict Fei’s interests in flesh as it relates to sexuality, pain, ownership of the body, mortality, and perhaps our place in the universe.
"Dark Stars (2013)" Acrylic on Canvas, by Chen Fei
The specificity of the Chen Fei’s work runs in stark contrast to the works of Japanese, Izumi Kato, which adorns the main central gallery that one can see as they enter the space.
Untitled works from 2013 by Izumi Kato
Born in 1969 at Shimane Prefecture, the exhibition at Galerie Perrotin, marks Kato’s first solo show outside Japan in career that almost spans two decades. Owing to his responsibilities as primarily a painter, to the two-dimensional medium of the canvas, Kato seeks to create a better way of not recreating our world, but creating a new one within that flat format.
While Chen Fei seeks to reflect the Japanese graphic obsession of a precise “Superflat” style, Izumi Kato is very comfortable with letting compositions arise from the application of paint from his own fingers wearing vinyl gloves and typical rubber kitchen spatulas. The effect of the medium combined with the alien-like beings depicted in his works, enable Kato to create new worlds with new characters unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Untitled from 2009, by Izumi Kato
Three dimensional figures, propped up on plywood platforms on the wall or on ready-made furniture, help Kato break the wall of the painted image, and bring his characters into our own space, where they seem happy enough to inhabit.
Untitled works from 2013 by Izumi Kato
VISIT Flesh and Me by Chen Fei and Izumi Kato Solo Shows Ends 2014 MAR 15. Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong, 50 Connaught Road Central, 17th Floor, Central, Hong Kong . +852-37582180
(Above: Feng Shui Master, Thierry Chow)
Those who know me personally know that my addiction to multi-tasking and juggling of several projects from both being a designer and blogger keeps me up on my toes so high that I’m basically flying on my own space ship. This is the reason why to some, I must look like some kind of “Space Cadet.” Additionally, some may also consider me “Spacey” because of my vocal (to my close friends) beliefs in the active exploration of a “non-physical”/ spiritual universe. What the!? You Ask? Let me explain.
This means that, although I’m personally not religious (spirituality too boxed up according to other people’s definition), I believe in a “metaphysical” order to the Universe, meaning that from my perspective on things, the Universe we see is a sliver of a portion and a by-product of what is actually REALLY out there. And just because one can’t materially and physically feel, see, and directly measure something, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. This has been conceptually confirmed theoretically in science within the last 6 months.
Living in Hong Kong, has been an amazing contributor in helping me foster my interests in the esoteric study which among the many “spiritual” topics I’ve been interested in, is Feng Shui. Additionally, I’ve noticed that every successful or creative person I know in this city, even those who seemingly only believe in the worship of money, have at one point or another, seeked the counsel of a Chinese medicine doctor, a Feng-Shui master, or a neighborhood temple’s local clairvoyant. From the culture of “paper burning” as a way to honor the dead visibly on sidewalk streets, to the iconic towers of the city designed by the likes of Norman Foster and IM Pei, Feng Shui has had a presence almost everywhere, shaping this unique first world city.
Feng Shui is older than Christianity and dates back practices to around 6,000 years ago in China, and is essentially the study of the correlative relationship between each human being and their spatial universe, using maths to calculate your relational physical elements “fire, water, earth, metal”. What Feng Shui allows people (who believe in it) to do, is to manipulate the physical environment they live and work in, so that this environment can work on their favor from a more “balanced” standpoint, balancing luck in career, relationship, and health in an yearly basis in relation to each individual. For 2014, I’ve finally gained a new local Feng Shui expert (I used to rely on my hobbyist aunt from Texas) in the name of the very stylish, Thierry Chow.. With fellow spiritualist, writer, and social media personality, Johannes Pong (below right), we met up with Thierry, and her boyfriend, Canadian artist, Peter Yuill (below left), for a welcome dinner in the neighborhood to discuss more of her work as both a budding Feng Shui master and the converging of her practice with design work for a new generation of dual-language/dual-culture believers.
Thierry who has been featured locally with profiles in several magazines and websites like Sassy Hong Kong and Lifestyle Asia, has only just begun her practice. An apprentice of “legendary feng shui master”, Chow Hon Ming, her father, Thierry seeks to give modern solutions for people living in today’s world. She plans to soon design modern furniture and home items, which combine basic feng shui principles, that look and feel good from a design perspective. For the month of February, she even held events with her dad at the Little Square space on Square Street which is really fantastic for her new career because Little Square gets the cool young crowd, a completely different audience relative to your aunts and grandma, for example.
After dinner with Thierry and Peter, Thierry agreed to reorganize my home based on Feng Shui principles for 2014, as well as give me one of her special readings in which she assessed my whole life via that feng shui point of view. I’m here to tell you that Feng Shui needs not to be about old school crystals, weird statues, and balls with running water… in fact, as part of the modern incorporation and principals, it too can be stylish. Here are a few things I’ve had to do to integrate well spatially with 2014:
+ Money Corner
I had to get all “red” in the South Corner of my flat because this year my chances for wealth have doubled if this corner was “activated”. The aromatic diffuser, replaced fish bowls and tacky waterfall machines. Thank God for Thann Hong Kongat K11 and their diffusers! The red painting I sourced from Pinterest.com, plotted out in hi-resolution and framed myself. The charms (looking like a pot of Gold) are gifts from Mischa and John Hardy.
+ Lucky Wrist
Because I naturally have so much “fire”, Thierry advised me to wear less read, and more soothing colors to reflect colder elements like water and metal. Ie. Jewellery. Even though men have begun to wear more jewellery and wrist pieces as part of today’s Dandy-inspired looks, I’ve just preferred to wear watches. After asking readers on Twitter where I can source “silvers” and “golds”, my friend, Angus, told me that Kapok on St. Francis Yard sells the full range of Men’s Miansai bracelets. Any of them would work, but I decided to purchase the Rose Gold Cuff. It’s a solid brass base with a 24K Rose Gold plate. I’ve been MORE lucky ever since.
+ Green To Grow Relationships
My most favorite part about finding stuff for the home is filling it with plants. I was happy to buy more plants for the center portion of the flat, especially ones that looked a little more “floweri-sh”. Its best that one gets flowers for the relationship corner, however if the plant only looks like a flower, that can pass as well. Although I love flowers, they’re really a bit too high maintenance.
+ Red, Yet Earthly Work Chair
I was tempted to purchase this “Chinese” Style chair from Ikea, because according to Thierry, it’s best If my Western corner (My work corner) had more earthly elements. Also Red is a very lucky color for career, while the timber seat reflects more of the earthly vibe needed for this specific area, which is different for everyone. I ended up not getting the chair because it wasn’t available, and upon further research online, the chair had quality issues. I just wanted to point out, that solutions for Feng Shui can be stylish while also a fun challenge.
+ Socks for Lunar New Year
Despite the fact that I’m supposed to wear less red, universally, everyone is supposed to wear red socks to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The GAP in Hong Kong had these amazing knitted boot socks at 30% off. It’s a great excuse to buy great looking pair of socks, while sticking to this superstitious rules in a fun and stylish way.
I also wanted to point out for the month of February, BOOM Magazine released a special 2014 Feng Shui Almanac that totally looks old school. This is one of Thierry’s latest projects, and a way for her to make the practice be relevant to our generation and integrating her work with design. It’s quite cool. Some cool content on here is a guide on where you should stand at a bar in relation to your Chinese Horoscope and a guide to how to twerk.
(Twerking is not related to Feng Shui in anyway FYI.)
Also I spotted Peter’s work area he shares with Thierry. Thematically, he’s into metaphysics too.
Happy Go Lucky 2014 from Wanderlister.com!
Originally published on 05.Feb.2014 via INDESIGNLIVE HONG KONG
Born in 1929, LA-based architect, Frank Gehry, needs no introduction. Being relatively the most populist of all starchitects of his generation, Gehry is also easily the most touchy-feely of the bunch. A straightforward practitioner, his exploration of form is unabashedly sculptural without the theoretical mumbo jumbo that guides the fluid works of Zaha Hadid, Peter Eisenmann, and Thom Mayne of Morphosis, for example.
The architect-as-sculptor liberates Gehry to do what he does best, design form without constraints, which includes the computer. Those who have studied Gehry’s work know that his studio is filled with hundreds of physical models, and there’s the old legendary tale of his designing Bilbao from a cocktail napkin. But because this is architecture and his stuff needs to be built, his projects go through a process of rationalisation, which eventually has to work structurally, as well as respond to a site’s scale constraints.
Funny however that while his latest buildings and his non-habitable works like his corrugated cardboard furniture series – Easy Edges (1969-73), Experimental Edges (1979-82), and the Knoll Furniture Series (1989-92) – all focus on trying to make the thing kind of not look like the thing it is supposed to be, the Fish Lamp studies, of which the latest versions of them are currently on display at the Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong, are exactly what he names them to be. The angle here is not really about the restraint of formal explorations as to what the fish can be, but really about the earlier brief that started it all, a request by Formica Corporation to Gehry to create something new with their plastic laminate product, ColorCore, in the early eighties. Gehry’s Formica product is a thin sheet of glossy plastic laminate, which when broken and ripped, reflect the scales of a fish when grouped together. The properties of the torn plastic gives the sculpture different levels of translucency, especially when the LED within the fish is turned on.
According to Gallerist Nadia Chan of Gagosian Hong Kong, these fish lamps, 33 new pieces in total and exhibited amongst four Gagosian galleries around the world, were all hand sketched by Gehry and are site specific to the floor plan. Eventually like all architectural works, his sketches are further studied on computer, and built in his California studio by hand. The hand-chipped fish scales are then individually glued piece by piece on a wire armature built based on the computer’s model.
Not a surprise, Gehry sells well, and the Hong Kong showing, tied with the Lunar New Year, is considered the grand finale of all four Gagosian shows. Hong Kong has the most new works of these Koi light sculptures, a lucky symbol by Chinese standards. An extra treat to Gehry fans is his inclusion of a big black alligator sculpture located at the very end of the visitor’s path.
The exhibition, ending on 1 March 2014, has already sold well for the gallery. A single fish or a school of them can be acquired making sure Gehry’s offerings easily adapt to Asian spaces. The architect originally planned to make a press appearance in Hong Kong for the show’s opening, but sources say, due to health and schedule, he was not able to make it to this side of the Pacific. Noting his age, this may very well be the last we see of new fish from Gehry at such a grand scale.
For those who want to see his fish on permanent exhibit, there is always the giant Fish Sculpture at Vila Olimpica at Barcelona (1989-92) and the Standing Glass Fish (1986) at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which will be situated at their sites pretty much forever.
VISIT Frank Gehry: Fish Lamps, Exhibition Ends 1 March 2014 . Gagosian Hong Kong . 7F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong
I just want to take the time to apologize to my buddy, artist Joao Vasco Paiva, from the bottom of my heart for not posting about his exhibition much sooner. Paiva’s latest and best show yet, titled Near and Elsewhere, for Edouard Malingue Gallery, launched in late November and lasted for almost two months. Of course I should have posted about it in December or January, when it was most helpful, but with the year’s end and me flying to Texas and back… there seemed to be no time. But Alas… wait no more, here it is… better late than… well later.
Portugal born Paiva, is an active art practitioner in Hong Kong. At a relatively young age, 29, Paiva moved head first right into producing art after graduating with distinction for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Media in 2008 in Hong Kong. Now his career is shooting straight up, being one of the Saamlung Gallery pioneers in collaboration with curator, Robin Peckham, in 2011-2012, and has since exhibited in museums and galleries in Hong Kong, Portugal, UK, Australia, Hungary, New York, and London. The Near and Elsewhere show at Edouard Malingue marks Paiva’s second solo showing, the first being hosted at the Goethe Institute in Hong Kong earlier last year.
The formal studies for Near and Elsewhere reflect Paiva’s own method of archiving Hong Kong’s public space and urban by-products. The objects in the exhibition is essentially a collection of neglected pieces of the everyday. From “boarded-up shop fronts camouflaged by a collage of ads, cast-off plexi strips, and mark-ridden fences used to prop severed wood”, Paiva looks at the unconscious development of form in common and useful space, as a way to underpin an exploration for new composition.
Untitled (from the Wanchai Market 3) 2013 . Oil on Stone Resin
A practice in displaying found object THIS IS NOT. Paiva’s obsession with documentation of Hong Kong, puts him in line pretty much with the likes of these “expat artists”, those born outside the city, but spend their lives reveling in the gloriousness of this alien world… the works of Architects, MAP Office, and photographer, Michael Wolf, come to mind immediately. Paiva’s collection of 2D stacks of planes in different shades of white within “The Brief Moment in Time” series, or the Untitled Speed Bumps or Untitled Styrofoam boxes in resin, pretty much scream Hong Kong as a signifier, however these are new items. While MAP Office draws and writes to deconstruct the sometimes absurd nature of the city as a form of documentation, and Michael Wolf, magnifies the residential building facade of Hong Kong as a seductive vertical veil, Paiva processes the neglected pieces as a way to properly validate their formal existence, either by re sculpturing them exactly as they were but with new medium, or giving them a painted and glossy finish to really accentuate their uniqueness… as with the Untitled Lumberyard pieces.
They may not be objects of desire in a traditional sense, but Paiva makes a good case that all objects are in fact desirable, because none would have been crafted or invented without its usefulness, of which all these pieces at one point in their lifetime in Hong Kong… were very useful.
Untitled (from the Wanchai Market 1) 2013 . Oil on Stone Resin
Untitled (from the Wanchai Market 2) 2013 . Oil on Stone Resin
Untitled (Corner) 2013 . Dental Stone Gypsum
From a Brief Moment In Time Series 2013 . Oil in Wooden Board
Friends and Supporters of Joao Vasco Paiva. Monocle editor, Aisha Spiers and her partner Jared.
Artist, Jin Meyerson, and Thyvane’s Roger Ouk.
My favorite piece… Untitled (Lumberyard Array 2) 2013 . Latex on Wood, with Steel Base.
Apparently some of the forms where photographed and imported into Sketch Up and rationalized and made new… it’s really fascinating how Paiva imports the found object, develops it, and re exports it as the art.
Big show, big sign. Congrats Joao!
MORE INFORMATION Joao Vasco Paiva’s Near and Elsewhere for Edouard Malingue Gallery
Due to a really slow work month, me and my designers took one afternoon off to check out this year’s architectural pavilions on exhibit for the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism \ Architecture (UABB) in Hong Kong. For those of you who have lived in Hong Kong for a while, and are a bit confused, the “Bi-City” is a politically correct way to say Hong Kong and Shenzhen without having to worry which city to name first in the official title.
What makes visiting it this year so confusing is that this used to be called the “Hong Kong-Shenzhen Bi- City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture”, but with the new name has broken up into two separate websites (which barely link to each other for some reason) with two separate graphic brandings / logos.
HK UABB BRANDING:
SHENZHEN UABB BRANDING:
I really wish they would just stick with one brand, one logo, one website, or at least have each a clear web link for information between the two. The HK site has a small tiny logo in the lower left hand side which links to the SZ programme (but the logo looks like sponsor…not actually part of the programme). The SZ site has no link back to Hong Kong. That said once you’ve gone past the initial confusion and realize it’s both the same biennale, you have until February 28 to spend half a day on the Hong Kong showing, and a full day on the Shenzhen showing.
I have yet to visit the Shenzhen arm of the exhibition, but at least me and my designers were able to spend a couple of hours checking out the Hong Kong exhibits which are “bi-harbour”, meaning the sites for the shows are both on the Kowloon side of the Harbour in Kwun Tong, and the Hong Kong side in North Point/Fortress Hill.
The Kwun Tong site is fascinating. For those visitors who only know Hong Kong via the glittering towers of Central or the hilly terrain of Lantau, Kwun Tong was once one of Hong Kong’s most highly industrial areas centered around the salt trade amongst other things.
The neighborhood is currently undergoing an kind of development renaissance since the government will be putting in place an MTR connection here, in part to serve the newly opened Kai Tak Cruise Terminal designed by Foster + Partners on a strip of site that was once the Kai Tak Airport, which is parallel to the Kwun Tong Promenade… the site of the UABB. Of course with any development, controversy always follows, and the UABB, a bi-annual event that seeks to question the urbanistic growth between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, was a target of activists who wanted to focus on the the Government’s pro-development schemes of the Kwun Tong neighborhood. Even some of the event organisers and partners were not allowed into the programme’s opening day of which Chief Executive, CY Leung was in attendance.
That said, here are some highlight photographs* from the Hong Kong exhibit that you should take note of:
+ EKEO (Energizing Kowloon East Office) Hong Kong Head Office Temporary Building / Designed by Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) and the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD)
According to their website, the EKEO office was set up in 2012 to "steer, supervise, oversee, and monitor the development of Kowloon East (Kwun Tong) with a view to facilitating its transformation into another premier CBD of Hong Kong." The building currently highlights a study of a smart transportation system, using a rechargeable scooter bike, which can make use of existing buildings and alleyways to help promote new grassroots commercial ventures.
The most interesting part about this is actually the temporary building which houses the exhibition, designed by the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) and the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD). The building was completed in 6 months, taking 3 months for design, and 3 months for construction. Housing 20 staff members, the building used recycled freight containers for a modular scheme, amongst utilisation of raw bamboo, low flow water technology, daylight sensors, recycled aggregates to help lower its carbon footprint overall.
+ House of Red . House of Blue / Designed by Kacey Wong
Kacey Wong’s introverted House of Red . House of Blue pavilion is an open air library cocooned in a croissant-like pavilion made of burnt wood and chopped down tree trunks. The books in the pavilion set amongst the seats and the trunks of trees, all focus on the subject on Hong Kong and China’s built environment and building culture.
+ Make Out City / Designed by Architectkidd, CHAT, Studiomake, Thingsmatter
Make Out City is an interesting formal work designed by Bangkok designers, Architectkidd, CHAT, Studiomake, and Thingsmatter. All the pieces for this lookout platform with two seats were fabricated by hand in Bangkok and shipped to Hong Kong. According to the designers, the work “illustrates the hybridized manner in which (they) like to fabricate things. It is a long, skinny lookout platform (which allows) visitors to climb out and gaze out onto the water.” Additionally they wanted to point out that the piece is made of four separate components; stair, structure, platform, and periscope. Which I suppose is why it takes four designers to design the whole thing?
+ Kwun Tong Promenade Stage 1 / Designed by Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) and the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD)